Friday, 27 July 2012

Chameleons change colour depending where they are

I'm not going to comment on the rights and wrongs of the issue of "gay" or "equal" marriage, since I've already blogged about it here, "Humpty Dumpty or Brave new world?". As you may remember the principle that most concerned me was governments trying change reality by redefining language. I'm happy for people who love each other to live together with long-term commitment. And I readily concede that Christians, including me, have been slow to wish them well, for which I'm sorry.

However this time I'm concerned with the nature of politics and the behaviour of politicians in particular. You may remember that before Christmas the Prime Minister made a much trumpeted speech to church leaders in Oxford, of which the Daily Mail's headline was "Speak up for Christianity, Cameron tells Archbishop: PM calls on the Church to defend 'values and moral code' of the Bible". Earlier this week he made a speech (not so widely publicised) to prominent members of the gay, lesbian and bi-sexual community,  in Downing Street of which the Telegraph's headline was "We will legalise gay marriage by 2015, says David Cameron. David Cameron has given a personal guarantee to legalise gay marriage by 2015 - despite unease among his own MPs and his core Conservative supporters. The best account of what he said on each occasion was here:, and here: I'm sure he would deny it, but it looks very much like a case of saying what your audience wants to hear. "But surely that's the stock in trade of all politicians?" I fear you may be right, but if so it's a sad state of affairs. There once was a phrase "conviction politics". You knew what a politician stood for, what their convictions were. Now it's a case of "focus-group" or "opinion-poll politics" and politicians are merely reflections of what they think we want to hear.

For me, the comedy "Twenty Twelve" has been the redeeming feature of all the Olympic hype to which we have been subjected in an ever-increasing crescendo. Most wonderful of all, emerging from the PR company, Perfect Curve, like a star, has been the character of Siobhan, with her indomitable optimism and unsurpassed ability to do instantaneous u-turns and to create mutually contradictory concepts: Watch Siobhan Sharpe in full flow. In the final episode, which you can still watch on iPlayer, Siobhan's stream of consciousness has infected the rest of the Olympic Deliverance Team, "totally, guys. So that's good!" I even detected some Siobhanisms in the chef de mission of Team GB on BBC Radio 4 this morning. (By the way, that's a phrase that really makes me grind my teeth - something Jane's trying to cure me of - "team GB". It's not just the phrase, though why we can't just use our country's name like every other nation defeats me; it's also the religious uniformity (no, that's unfair to religions) with which commentators use it. Clearly a governmental edict has gone forth, and those who transgress and say "Great Britain" face being thrown on to the fiery scrapheap.) Oh for the return of the individual!
Kenyan chameleon - Superstock photo
With Siobhan it is great entertainment. One of my friends described her as her "fave English person", which is fine as long as she's a caricature on screen. But when our politicians adopt her modus operandi of sailing with whatever wind is prevailing at that moment, "absolutely", then it is a danger signal. In fact people responded to the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ken Livingstone because, agree with them or not, their principles were clear and consistent. When I consider the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, or the Leader and Deputy Leader of Her Government, I'm not sure I recognise any clear convictions between them, except to try to please people. They're like chameleons. I clearly remember my one encounter with one of these wonders of nature outside my temporary home in Kenya. He, or she, was a handsome creature. But I don't want my politicians to be chameleons, changing their colour according to their background. Above all, I don't want a Prime Minister named David Chameleon. Even so, I trust he's able to have a relaxing and hard-earned holiday with his family this summer. Despite the perks, he has a tough job. Bless him!

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